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Naturalist Journeys is happy to return to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some mountain and streamside birding. This year we’ve added a day to our journey to take advantage of the wonderful coastal wetlands and marshes around Portland to round out some great summer birding. The primary goal of this New Hampshire nature tour is to get good looks a one of the most range-restricted songbirds in North America: the Bicknell’s Thrush. We’ve timed this journey to run just after the Down East Spring Birding Festival, a fun event to pair with our tour. It is limited to 8 clients (four plus your driver in two mini-vans or SUVs).
Explore the higher elevations of the White Mountains, including the impressive top of Mt. Washington as we look for breeding Bicknell’s Thrush as well as tree-line-hugging plants, American Pipit, the rare White Mountain Arctic Butterfly, and White Mountain Fritillary. In addition to the tree-line realm, spend time in lush spruce-fir forests and northern hardwood mixed conifer forests, habitats dotted with lakes and rivers. With luck we watch Peregrine Falcon hunt from a dramatic cliff where they are known to nest. Enjoy walking trails and keep an eye open for wild sarsaparilla, starflower, and blue-bead lily on the forest floor. In Portland, visit Scarborough Marsh and other hotspots at this coastal location.
This is an upscale trip based out of the luxurious Glen House Hotel, where we booked view rooms with balconies—a real treat!
- Search for montane species, with some effort—the reward of seeing Bicknell’s Thrush
- Enjoy the scenic and historic drive up Mt. Washington, home to the highest wind speed on Earth
- Witness mountain wildflowers and endless views of the White Mountains
- Cover a broad diversity of habitats, from rocky seashore to the alpine zone
- Take short walks for specialty boreal birds like Boreal Chickadee and White-throated Sparrow
- Take a morning to bird in coastal Maine looking for Common Eider, Piping Plover, Roseate Tern, and great comparisons of Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows
- Relax on a short, gentle tour with a small group
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Tues., June 4 : Arrival in Portland, Maine
Welcome to Maine! Please plan to arrive no later than 5:00 PM today at the Portland, Maine, International Jetport (PWM). We gather as a group for greetings, dinner, and a chance to see the waterfront area of Portland. This lively, small town of just 66,000 is situated right on the water and is perfect to explore for a few days at your leisure before or after the tour—lighthouses, lobster, and pleasant summer weather make Portland a fun getaway.
We choose an airport hotel with a shuttle to make arrival simple for all. Those that arrive by 2:30PM can enjoy some casual birding with your guide ahead of our waterfront dinner.
Accommodations at the Hampton Inn, near the airport in Portland (D)
Wed., June 5 : Maine Coastal & Wetland Birding
And off we go … after breakfast we spend our first morning birding a couple of coastal hotspots in southern Maine, including Scarborough Marsh, a 3000 acre estuary, where we look for waterfowl, egrets, herons, rails, and perhaps even Glossy Ibis, as well as a number of grassland songbirds like Bobolink that are uncommon in other parts of the state.
Enjoy lunch at one of Portland’s many great restaurants. In the afternoon we have additional birding spots to visit, including Crescent Beach State Park, a mile-long stretch of sand backed by beach grass laden dunes. This is a perfect day to gain a notch on your birding skills with our great guides!
Accommodations in Portland (B,L,D)
Thurs., June 6 : Portland to Mt. Washington | Glen House
After breakfast, we enjoy the scenic two-hour drive to the Glen House Hotel at the base of New Hampshire’s stunning Mt. Washington. We make the morning of it, birding along the way and enjoying a popular local spot for lunch. After checking in to our lovely hotel, we spend the remainder of the afternoon nearby forested areas in search of warblers and other songbirds settled in on their breeding territories.
The Glen House Hotel has a long history, starting in the 1850s when it was converted from an old farmhouse into the original hotel. After multiple rebuilds, the Glen House we see today is the fifth iteration of the hotel, and it’s a luxury we greatly look forward to on this trip. The hotel features views of Mt. Washington, gorgeous natural light through floor to ceiling windows in the bar and dining area, and lovely, quiet grounds. We booked view rooms with balconies—nice!
Dining is a treat here, you’ll be happy to have four nights to sample the menu.
Accommodations at Glen House Hotel (B,L,D)
Fri., June 7 : Mt. Washington, New Hampshire
Today we plan to summit! We spend our day working our way up to the top of Mt. Washington, where we explore the history of the mountain and bird the alpine zone, weather permitting (it can be really windy at the top!). The White Mountains of New Hampshire include the great Mt. Washington at 6288 feet. As we work our way up, we explore and bird amongst red spruce, balsam fir, and paper and yellow birches. The view along the drive up and at the top is stunning; we take time to simply appreciate the stretching mountain views of peaks below.
We take a picnic lunch on the mountain and then spend the afternoon descending the auto road, where we have our first chance for Boreal Chickadee, Bicknell’s Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, and other boreal specialties. The Bicknell’s Thrush has an extremely limited summer range, from upstate New York to Nova Scotia and Quebec, where this elusive bird nests in small, undersized conifers near the very tops of mountains, maritime forests and logging land … the common denominator is dense balsam fir-spruce forest. Unlike its very close relative, the Gray-cheeked Thrush that winters in South America, the Bicknell’s Thrush winters in the West Indies.
Accommodations at Glen House Hotel (B,L,D)
Sat., June 8 : White Mountains, New Hampshire
After breakfast today we take an early morning to drive up the mountain again, going more direct this time for the chance of hearing the thrushes sing. Our aim is to have additional chances for finding Bicknell’s Thrush and other boreal species we may have missed yesterday afternoon. Bicknell’s Thrush is incredibly rare for a number of reasons, including a difference in forestry and logging management between the US and Canada, and greatly because of intense deforestation in Hispaniola and the West Indies where this species winters.
After lunch at the hotel, we bird local montane hotspots such as Pinkham Notch and Wildcat Mountain. Among other northeastern breeding species, we hope see our first of up to 20 different warblers.
Explore among spruce and fir trees, as well as hardwoods like American beech, sugar maple, and yellow birch, and conifer trees such as eastern hemlock, white pine, and balsam fir. In the understory are striped maple, witch hazel and hobblebush shrubs.
We enjoy dinner and go over our bird list tonight before turning in for the night.
Accommodations at Glen House Hotel (B,L,D)
Sun., June 9 : White Mountains, New Hampshire
Assuming that we have had success with our mountain quests, our last full day takes us to lower elevations and a broader diversity of forest and riparian habitats. In addition to an abundance of warblers, we search for Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Swamp Sparrow, and Scarlet Tanager.
After lunch in the Ellis River Valley, known for its picturesque meandering river, we continue birding these lower mountain habitats at some productive hotspots. Wildflowers should be prime and we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Tonight we enjoy a celebratory dinner, reminiscing on our favorite moments of the trip.
Accommodations at Glen House Hotel (B,L,D)
Mon., June 10 : Return to Portland | Departures
We say goodbye to our wonderful hosts at the Glen House Hotel after breakfast. We then find our way back to Portland and return to the airport in time for flights scheduled for noon or later. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the Journey is $3090 DBL / $3585 SGL based on double occupancy from Portland, Maine. The tour price includes, 6 nights’ accommodation, all meals, ground transportation in SUV or other large vehicle, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. The tour price does not include round-trip airfare to and from Portland, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or other services. Guide gratuities are at your discretion.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 4, 2024 no later than 5:00 PM Those that arrive by 2:30 PM can enjoy some casual birding with your guide.
Departure Details: Plan June 10, 2024 flights after 12:00 PM.
Travel Tip: You may wish to arrive a day early and rest up from your travels. The easiest option would be to book an extra night at our first night tour hotel, the Hampton Inn Portland Airport. If you’d like to explore a bit, there are many interesting things to do in Portland. Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse that is the most photographed in America, is a popular and scenic spot to visit that also has a museum. The Victoria Mansion is an Italianate villa known for its architectural significance and well-preserved lavish interior that can be toured. And if you’re into art, The Portland Museum of Art is a fascinating place to visit and has over 18,000 works of art including pieces from Andy Warhol and Claude Monet. All these attractions are located within 20 minutes of the airport and can be reached via taxi, Uber, or rental car.
Items of Note
This is a birding and wildlife trip, limited to 8 participants and our 2 guides. This is a strict limit due to weight restrictions on the Mt. Washington Road.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Michael has more than 25 years of experience studying the birds of North America, and brings a wealth of knowledge about Neotropical migrants and the avifauna of the Eastern United States. Michael has traveled extensively in the US, Alaska, Europe, Australia, South America and Cuba. He is also a regional business leader promoting sound ecologically practices in business and land development. Michael has been guiding professionally for many years, focusing on avian ecology in the Gulf of Maine bioregion. His fields of expertise include wetland ecology, ornithology, environmental education and developmental biology. Michael worked for many years at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studied numerous aspects of the Gulf of Maine.
In his spare time, he maintains Three Pines Bird Sanctuary in Town Hill, Maine, studying micro-habitat of Neotropical migratory birds on Mount Desert Island, Maine and winter ecology in various Neotropical countries, when given the opportunity.
Other trips with Michael Good
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
- Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at email@example.com.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Food & Drink
We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and we comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.
Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books. You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please pack light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
In general, the weather during your stay should be cool, with days in the 60’s and nights in the 40’s, and rain is always possible. Check your favorite weather website like www.weather.com closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.
Dress is very informal. We want you to be comfortable and the key to that is layering. Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm. Bring a warm sweater, and a windbreaker. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty – and things that are comfortable and easy. Supportive hiking boots are essential for our walks! Note on clothing colors: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended.
Clothing & Gear
- Long pants, 2-3 pair, selected for warmth and comfort. Fleece tights with wind pants can also be a great option.
- Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks – think layering
- T-shirts or equivalent – 2-3 for layering
- Long underwear, tops and bottoms – silk or polypro is nice
- Raincoat and pants – these double as wind break
- Jacket for warmth and wind protection – layer with raingear
- One lightweight and one heavy weight sweater, fleece or equivalent
- Comfortable clothes for evening (clean field clothes are appropriate, think comfortable!)
- A nice broad hat with mosquito netting. We will encounter black flies and we want you to feel comfortable!
- Scarf, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat for cold weather
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – medium to heavy weight and easy to wash and dry.
- Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
- Lightweight hiking boots with good tread
- Rain-friendly footwear (L.L. Bean boot or equivalent with rubber bottom)
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days
- Bandana (optional)
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- E-ticket verification
- Personal identification
- Small daypack or fanny pack to carry gear while hiking (essential!)
- Walking stick (optional, but strongly recommended!)
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.
- Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Insect repellent: black flies will be present
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Toiletry articles
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
- Camera and extra batteries, storage cards, etc., lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual. Do a good check for all this before leaving (optional)
- Cell phone and charger
- Water bottle (or plan to reuse our store-bought water bottle if you prefer)
- Gallon-size ziplock bags for keeping things dry
- Laundry soap for hand washing
- Travel sewing kit
- Earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise at night – optional)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing – your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions)
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
- Copy of eyeglass prescription and any medical alerts
- Insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial gel
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for New Hampshire; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A free phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
New Hampshire’s White Mountains
The Glen House
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Mount Washington eBird Hotspot
New Hampshire Audubon
New Hampshire Wildlife
“Something Wild: Warbler Fallout” – Article, NHPR.org w/ both written and audio clips
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Cresent Beach State Park
Mount Washington State Park
Mount Washington Observatory
The Nature Conservancy in Maine
Maine Conservation Alliance
Maine Audubon Conservation Projects
Geology & Geography
The Geology of New Hampshire’s White Mountains
Geography of New Hampshire
History & Culture
White Mountain History
New Hampshire History & Culture
New Hampshire Arts & Culture
History of the Mount Washington Cog Railway
Helpful Travel Websites
Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Date & Time
Photo credits: Mt. Washington, courtesy UnSplash; Palm Warbler, Doug Greenberg; White Mountains Scenic, courtesy UnSplash; Horned Lark, Doug Greenberg; Gray Catbird, Steve Shunk; White Admiral Butterfly, Steve Shunk; White-throated Sparrow, Steve Shunk; White Mountains, courtesy UnSplash; Glossy Ibis, Alan Schmierer via Flickr; Bobolink, Steve Wolfe; Black-throated Blue Warbler, Steve Shunk; Portland Lighthouse, courtesy UnSplash; Glen House at Night and Guest Room Photo, courtesy theglenhouse.com; Downy Woodpecker, Steve Shunk; Road to Mt. Washington, courtesy theglenhouse.com; Philadelphia Vireo, Steve Shunk; White-throated Sparrow, Steve Shunk; White Mountains, courtesy UnSplash; Mt. Washington Drive, courtesy theglenhouse.com; Portland Lighthouse, courtesy UnSplash; Bicknell's Thrush, Alan Schmierer via Flickr; Mt. Washington, courtesy UnSplash; Black-and-white Warbler, Steve Shunk; Eastern Wood-Pewee, Steve Shunk.